by Bernie Koerselman
At that time I understood Scripture mostly from personal study. I'd been a Christian for about two years. The prior year I'd spent the first hour of most days in personal Bible study. I'd read through the entire Bible several times and the New Testament many more times. As a lawyer, I did a lot of reading and studying.
I've continued to study Scripture on an accelerated basis, but not in seminaries or denominational settings. When I left my law practice to serve the Lord full-time I expected to go to seminary, but the Lord seemed to say, "Study Scripture on your own"; I didn't go. To study Scripture better, I thought I should accumulate commentaries to help explain it, just as I had a good law library as an attorney. Again, the Lord seemed to say "No!" I would study only the Bible. I knew then, and now, that commentaries can be valuable and are often by dedicated men of God. It surprised me that I wasn't to use them in my study.
Recognizing I could fall into error by studying purely on my own without commentaries, I wrote my understandings of Scripture passages and sent my writings to godly men I knew throughout the United States. To my joy these men understood Scripture as I did, even though we'd never talked about the issues I wrote about. I began to realize that because the Holy Spirit is their teacher, people who devote themselves to God's Word will likely see spiritual issues similarly.
From the time of my earliest studies, the Lord has put in my heart a desire to know the correct teachings about salvation. Peripheral issues those on which well-meaning men may differ seem less important. If a teaching jeopardizes the hearer's opportunity for salvation, however, I have a heightened interest.
This book is about salvation and is intended to include solely the teachings of God's Word. It's about what I've learned and what I've observed as deficient or wrongly taught in the twentieth century American church.
Is this important reading? I regard the subjects of the utmost importance, exceeding anything else. If we're misled on them, we can forfeit eternal life. In this book, I'll try simply and logically to prove those issues from Scripture that are essential for salvation.
This kind of writing doesn't offer the gripping story of a good novel, nor is it filled with personal anecdotes that make for interesting reading. It's not a one-or-two-day quick study that can be skimmed, not if real value is to be gained from it.
Is this hard reading? No, because the basis for this book is the Bible. Computer programs tested several translations to see at what grade level they were written. All were written at the same grade level, the sixth grade.
That shouldn't be surprising. God wants everyone to read his Word and be saved. Because he had the Bible written at that level, most of us qualify. He made his Word so easy to understand that a child can grasp it.
Yet with today's information explosion, people get most of their information from television, then newspaper and magazines. Recently I heard a statistic that the average American spends over 2,000 hours a year watching television and just over five hours a year reading. If it is true, such people have little interest in studying their Bibles. For those of us who do read Scripture, it is usually through a filter of teachings from our churches. This book gives you an opportunity to examine the issues of salvation in a different way, not with a different filter, but, it is hoped, without a filter. That's because what I present here I didn't learn through the filter of any church's doctrines. I do not suggest that I have a corner on the truth. I do suggest that this may be an opportunity to view these issues in a fresh way, from one who has no "background" to color the writing.
This book will prove its points by using the legal rule to interpret writings: Let the writing speak for itself. In a courtroom, whenever a document speaks clearly on a given subject, no outside evidence or testimony with a contrary interpretation is allowed. Scripture speaks profusely on the subjects in this book. I contend that no opinions or interpretations of men, including mine, are needed to arrive at the truth.
From time to time I'll emphasize words within a verse of scripture by putting them in italics to help make plain the use of the passage. Rather than add "emphasis added" each time, please remember that neither the original manuscripts nor the various translations of Scripture have emphasis added in the text.
Scripture is the basis and foundation for this book. But therein lies another problem for both reader and author. As a lawyer I tend to overwhelm with evidence, to make sure I make the point. That can be tedious to a reader who, like my wife Darlene, wishes I'd make the point simply and quickly. I want to make sure the most diligent readers find all the proofs they need to understand, believe, and apply the truths they find here, but don't want to wear down those willing to accept quickly the simple truths of God's word.
Accordingly, the book has basic text for easiest reading. For those who wish more information, footnotes expand on the basic text, provide more proofs, and show Scripture citations.
Feel free to read only the basic text unless you're not 100 percent convinced about a given subject, or, if you're like me, you want to know everything you can. In that case, study the footnotes as well.